Talent in Heaven

It's been a rough week for the entertainment industry, most especially for the family, friends, and fans of three stars whose lights were extinguished this week. First we lost the legendary Ed McMahon, beloved former Tonight Show sidekick and announcer. Besides Johnny Carson, Ed also frequently collaborated with Dick Clark, from their Bloopers show to commercials for American Family Publishers. 86 is a respectable age, but we're always sad to say goodbye to anyone, especially someone as amicable as McMahon was. A few days ago I caught his Lotto commercial which included the late Don LaFontaine, and thought how strange it was to be watching one of the deceased. May Ed be sharing coffee and stories with Johnny in heaven.

The next death was the lovely Farrah Fawcett. At 62, she was too young, but the former Charlie's Angel had been battling cancer and, unfortunately, it was a battle she lost.

Death, they say, happens in threes. I've heard this expression from my parents and many others, and for some reason the pattern always works, whether or not I'm looking for it. In this case, it was the biggest shock of the week, as Michael Jackson was reported dead at the age of 50, from apparent cardiac arrest. I remember sitting at my desk at work, chatting with a coworker, and casually opening another friend's web page only to read the words “R.I.P. MJ”. Further research led to conflicting reports. Very few had him dead, and most only said he'd been rushed to the hospital. Flipping around channels at the gym only brought more confusion. CNN had him in a coma at one point, while Wolf Blitzer filled air time by asking another correspondent to explain to viewers what a coma was. Seriously. I can't stand that guy. FOX News was marginally “better”, in that they had the correct and tragic information, at least based on a story the LA Times was reporting. A few other channels had similar information, and eventually CNN caught up, with the disclaimer that they themselves hadn't confirmed everything. Seeing all the helicopter shots of news vans and other vultures hovering outside the hospital made me feel unwell.

As I write this, I still don't know the complete details. We're all hungry and curious for information, as is human nature. But this is a time for Jackon's family to regroup and deal with the shock, and grieve. His later years were full of controversy, from accusations of child molestation to invasive reports of his art and memorabilia collections and general eccentricities, as well as his ever changing appearance. Like Elvis, I think Michael was always going to burn out and leave us young, as the brightest do. I remember buying a couple of paperback biographies in fourth grade from the school's Scholastic catalog, by an author named Mark Bego. At the time, I didn't know all that much about Michael but, having a crush on a girl who did, I needed to do my necessary homework. That was 1984, when the King of Pop was still very much alive, and very much at the height of his career. That's the icon I'll mourn and remember, from the rising star from The Jackson 5 to the moonwalking solo sensation. R.I.P., M.J.

Heaven got three times more talented this week, and our world a lot dimmer.


Anonymous Krispy said...

My son and I were standing in line at Subway yesterday when the DJ said something about Michael Jackson being dead. The boy and I both looked at each other with puzzled expressions, both of us thinking the same thing: Why'd he say that? What a weird joke, not funny at all.

I brushed it off with a South Park quote: "That's ignorant. He's being ignorant."

Then we get up there to order our sandwiches and the Subway Lady said "Isn't that awful about Michael Jackson?"

I'm like "What? He really IS dead?"

Then the boy and I looked at each other with REALLY puzzled expressions for a long time.

6/26/2009 6:13 PM  
Blogger MCF said...

Rey used to joke that the "real" Michael, the one we grew up with, had been dead for years, that the raven-haired albino woman living reclusively to occasionally be in the spotlight for possibly being a child molester was some alien or imposter, a poor facsimile of the kid who sang ABC or the man who brought us the Moonwalk.

And then it happens for real, suddenly and shockingly out of left field with days of McMahon and HOURS of Fawcett, and once it sinks in and the media vultures have synched and gotten the (sad) facts straight, EVERYONE gravitates back and mourns the Michael of old.

We can't control what people and history remember about us. We can only hope to have enough of an impact that the positive, brighter things shine on after we're gone.

6/26/2009 10:49 PM  

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